Sam Sanger: Merchant and Jewish Community Leader of Waco, Texas

Sam Sanger

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Sam Sanger of Waco

Sam Sanger of Waco


Sam Sanger was born in Baveria, Germany in 1843.

He had 6 brothers and 3 sisters.

He was educated at Wurzburg, the University of Berlin and at seminary.

Sam Singer  arrived in America in 1866.


Along the way . . .

He served a congregation in Philadelphia for three years and operated a shoe store in New York City, before moving to Cincinnati as a teacher at Hebrew Union College until his brothers asked him to come to Waco, Texas and help open another family store, Sanger Brothers.

Sam Sanger’s other brothers, Isaac, Lehman, Philip and Alex had all come to central Texas earlier and opened a series of general merchandise stores, basically following the route of the expanding railroad.

At the time of Sam Sanger’s arrival, they we already operating Sanger Bros. stores in McKinney, Decator, Weathersford, Bryan, Calvert, Kosse, Groesbeck, Corsicana, and the main store in Dallas.

In 1872/3, Sam Sanger helped open and manage the Waco, Texas Sanger Bros. store.

By 1876, with the railroad completed, most of the stores were closed or sold off, leaving only the two larger Sanger Bros. stores in Dallas and Waco.

Both stores thrived.



Sam Sanger became the president of the Cotton Palace Festival in 1894.

Waco aspired to have a Fall Festival which would promote the city. In 1894 Waco residents raised the money to build an exposition hall with seating for 5,000.

In November, 1894,  the first Cotton Palace Exhibition was a great success – bringing visitors from all over the state – but six weeks later the building burned.

In 1970, the Texas Cotton Palace was revived. Today, the Waco Cotton Palace is a stage production that recounts the history of Waco.


Sam Sanger was an active founding member in 1873 of Eureka Lodge #198 of B’nai B’rith, which was a strong instigator of the creation of Waco’s first synagogue Rodeph Sholom.

He was also on the committee that supported the B’nai B’rith Orphans Asylum in Cleveland, and was the organization’s Monitor.



Sam Sanger was considered the Patriarch of the Waco Jewish Community for years.

Sam Sanger was listed as the Vice President of the first planning committee for the new synagogue, Rodeph Sholom, and President, once the synagogue received its charter.

Sam Sanger is listed as President of the congregation through 1900, although some sources list two of his brothers as President  during various times in that era.

Rodoph Shalom, Waco Texas, 1st Building, 1881

Rodoph Sholom, Waco Texas, 1st Building, 1881

At the many periods that the synagogue was lacking a rabbi, Sam Sanger, being ordained, officiated at services



Sam Sanger married Hannah Heller, the daughter of Rabbi Kalman L. Heller, while teaching Hebrew in Cincinnati.


Sam Sanger passed away in 1918



For more information read the following article in Western States Jewish History

  • Pioneer Jews of Waco, Texas, by Mordecai Podet, WSJH, V21/1 & 2 (2 parts)
  • Sanger Brothers; Sanger Brothers and Their Role in Texas History; Rose Biderman, Rose G.; WSJH V28/2

Any pictures of Sam Sanger, his family and/or his home would be appreciated.